Healthy, Colorful Recipes for the 4th of July

Monday is July 4th, America’s national Independence Day. People will be enjoying cook-outs, time with family, fireworks shows and great food selections.

Healthy, Colorful Recipes for the 4th of July

Some people have their own standard cook-out and get together recipes. Others like to prepare foods with a holiday theme. If that’s you, we decided to share a couple of easy, colorful recipes with you that reflect the spirit of the red, white and blue.

Independence Day Waffles


  • Waffles (make your own or look for whole grain frozen
  • Low fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Honey
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • optional: cinnamon sugar, granola, sugar free syrup

Using 2-3 Tablespoons of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt per serving, mix yogurt and a teaspoon of honey together in a small bowl. Add cinnamon sugar if desired. Just a sprinkle works. Place 2 waffles on a plate, spoon yogurt mixture on top of waffles and top with strawberries and blueberries. If syrup is desired, opt for a sugar free brand and drizzle over the berries and yogurt. A spoonful of granola also makes a fun topping for added crunch.

Red, White and Turkey Roll-Ups

Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 slices deli style turkey breast (oven smoked, mesquite smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard or spicy deli mustard depending on preference
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper

Place the turkey slices on a cutting board and spread mustard on them. Lay the red bell peppers on top.  Roll tightly and secure each with a toothpick.

*These make great snacks for a party tray! This recipe was adapted from the book “5 Pounds” by Harley Pasternak, MSc.  You’ll find tons of great information on how to lose your first and last five pounds along with great tips on keeping the weight off, eating right and – of course, great recipes like this one!

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5 Ways You Can Work It Like a Dog

5 Ways You Can Work It Like a Dog

Watching my dog Maya is a great source of inspiration and positive emotions for me.   Throwing a ball or a Frisbee over and over across a field for her to retrieve can sometimes bring me the same benefit as meditation. She’s a three-year-old German Shepherd with a huge amount of energy. Sometimes she forgets to mind her manners. ‘Ladylike’ is not the word I would use to describe her. (You should hear her burp. Ugh.) Yet, she has some qualities that we can all benefit from. I’ve often thought that anyone with an important objective, a fitness goal or perhaps an entrepreneur with a dream, would do well to emulate Maya when she has her mind set on something.

That being said, Maya and I put together some tips so that you, too, can work it like a dog.

1.  Never Give Up. Be Relentless. When Maya wants to play ball or fetch, she will follow you around the house trying to push her ball or Frisbee into your hands. You cannot escape her. Want to unload the dishwasher? Maya drops her ball in the dishwasher. Walking on the treadmill? Expect a Frisbee to land under your feet. Maya does not give up. Eventually someone gives in and tosses the ball or rolls it a little distance. But they respond. We think that’s how life is, too.  Work it like a dog. Don’t give up. Never stop trying. If you believe in someone, in some cause or that a personal dream is worth having, follow Maya’s example and don’t take “no” for answer. Your health, your dreams, your family, your future is worth the effort.

2.   Keep Excited, Stay Focused. Maya loves few things more than she loves going to the lake. In fact, when we get about a mile away from it, she KNOWS where she’s going and she cannot sit still. It gets very loud in the Jeep as she barks, yips, turns in circles and tries to climb over the seat. And once we are there? Well, the poor soul left holding the leash better hang on tight, because Maya is going in that lake one way or another. She’s so happy, she can’t think of anything else. Wouldn’t it be great if us humans could be that way even after we aren’t little kids? So excited about our end results (getting in shape, walking 10,000 steps/day, improving our health), our destinations and our dreams? Maya keeps this enthusiasm whether it’s time for a walk, going outside to see her best friend dog, Freckles (lives next door), or jumping on the trampoline with our son. Yes, Maya plays on the trampoline. Just try and keep her away from that fun! She approaches life with passion and excitement. Whatever it is, Maya’s down with it. That’s how I want to be, too. Everyone has their own beliefs about life, love and happiness. My personal belief is that life, living it and just the whole journey of it – good or bad – is a present from God. My personal belief is that God hopes we will do our best to enjoy the journey like Maya does.

3.  Recover from Disappointments Quickly Because It’s Loyalty to Your Goals. Maya is a pro at this. If she doesn’t get to go outside when she wants to, she’ll sit by the door and make little groaning noises. Imagine a dog making that sound a kid makes when told “no.” “awwwwnnnh….” But 5 minutes later, she’s in your face trying to steal a kiss whether you called her over or not. She’s happy to be with you. If she gets into trouble for getting in the trash or coming into the dining area during dinner, no worries. She’ll put her head down, fold her ears back and look really, really sad. But the whole time? She’s waiting for a better moment. Maybe she’ll try again. Or maybe she’ll go get her ball and try to get you to play instead. The point is: Maya does not let disappointment ruin her day or her overall mission. I want that personality trait for myself. How many times have I let a discouraging word or experience ruin my whole day? Maya’s got the right idea. Summary: Don’t give up because of a setback. Start over the very next day! Keep stepping!

4.  Don’t Be Afraid to Get Close. Maya does have issues with respecting “personal space.” She will randomly get in your face for a kiss or to sniff you. She has to be reminded she is 75 lbs. and cannot just run and jump into your arms. Still, she watches “her” people closely. She reads emotions on faces. If you sit down at the table to work, on the swing to enjoy your morning coffee, or on the couch to watch T.V., you can expect Maya to push her 75 lb furry hide right behind your kneecaps where she will stay pressed up against you because she enjoys being close.   Humans should also try to get closer to others because they care. Maybe not closer in physical space. If you invade the personal space of someone you don’t know that well, it could lead to negative interaction… a punch in the nose or possibly an arrest warrant… You get the idea. Still, we can all take the time to chat a little more, ask a few more real questions (not just business) and let those we interact with see that we’re real people. Go for a walk with someone you care about. Maya recommends taking your dog for a walk. Studies show that people who exercise with a friend or in a social setting are healthier. One study showed that people who exercised in groups (as opposed to alone) showed the least decline in physical health and cognitive ability.

5.  Wag Your Tail Often. Right. If you wag your own tail excessively, you may get some interesting looks. The point here is that Maya is always smiling. Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy. Maya is happy ALOT. That tail wags everywhere. Books get knocked off shelves, glasses turned over and things just go flying when that bionic happy tail starts wagging like crazy. Remember the saying that you should smile because people will wonder what you’re up to? Or what about this little fact: It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

Maya and I think you should smile like crazy and often. Chaos might ensue at your house, at school or while you are working. But it will be fun and if you use your smile while pursuing your goals, it’ll work like a magnet. Just ask Maya: Whatever she hits with that happy tail usually causes people to come running.

Krissy Gillaspia is Walkingspree’s Marketing Manager. She logs the most steps on her Alta fitness tracker when she is out with Maya and highly recommends letting your dog help you achieve your step goals.

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Clean Eating Basics

Clean Eating Basics

You’ve probably heard the term “clean eating” or maybe you know people who say they are starting to “eat clean.” While it may seem like a term that has gotten popular in the last few years, many people will recognize the basics of clean eating diets because it’s how their grandparents naturally ate.  The reality is that the basis of all clean eating plans or diets is simply choosing to avoid all (or most) packaged and processed foods.

Depending on whose diet you are looking at, you may see variations; such as cutting out all forms of dairy, drinks other than water or red meat. Other clean eating plans have also been known to recommend the complete elimination of gluten.

What’s the simplest strategy to take in a clean eating program?

It’s the one that is easiest to follow as well as remember. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents followed a “clean eating” plan without consciously thinking about it. It was natural to them because the amount and variety of packaged and processed foods were either not available at the time or they were not readily available.

Eliminate packaged and processed foods.

Check labels. If you do have to buy something that is packaged or canned, look for added sugars, salts, and fats. If you can develop the habit of always checking for extra forms of sugar, salt and fat, you’ll find that you cut down on a lot of extra ingredients that really add up. Don’t worry about the food not having a lot of flavor. Remember you can always add your own salt or sweeten things to the level that you desire.

Some nutrition experts recommend choosing foods with five or less ingredients and eliminating products that have artificial sweeteners (e.g. , acesulfame potassium,sucralose, aspartame) or artificial colors.

Watch out for extra sugar.

Sugar is probably one of the biggest obstacles a clean eater can run into. You’ll find it overloaded into everything from pizza sauce to yogurt to salad dressing to flavored water. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (9 for men).  With the way sugar is labeled on our products, that can sometimes be difficult to calculate and watch carefully but Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! – shares an easy tip on how to get around this. Simply, take the grams of sugar on a product’s label and divide by 4. That gives you the number of teaspoons in a serving. Anything with more than 2 teaspoons per serving should not go in your shopping cart. .

Select “real” food that you recognize.

If you recognize it as it is, that’s a “real” food. Avoid products that have a dozen ingredients on the label with names you don’t recognize. Shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season. You’ll get better nutrient density and freshness this way. Remember it’s okay to use frozen fruits and vegetables – just avoid purchasing any that are sauced. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can also help you save money especially when out of season.

Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated while limiting alcohol and caffeine.

Let’s face it, our bodies won’t perform at their best without plenty of hydration. That means hydration helps us feel more energized, focused, calm and allows the systems in our body to function at their best. Try to drink 6 glasses of water daily. This can include flavored waters, non-caffeinated drinks and herbal teas. You can always make your own delicious, refreshing drink by filling a pitcher with water and slices of cucumber or oranges and letting it sit overnight.

While there is plenty of evidence supporting that caffeine can provide energy and alertness, it can also cause insomnia, stomach upset, nervousness or a feeling of agitation leading to lack of focus and irritability so use wisely and limit your intake to avoid negative side effects.

How Soon Can You See Results?

Clean eating is like most other diets or nutrition plans in that you have to stick to them and be consistent in order to see the results you’re working towards. It’s safe to say that if, until now, you have not been in the practice of eating clean and avoiding processed, packaged foods (and the usually included preservatives), you’ll begin to feel a difference in your energy levels, your focus and overall well-being even if you stick to the plan 75%-85% of the time vs. strictly following the rules 100% of the time.

Common sense reminder: Before you start any diet or nutrition plan, always talk to your doctor especially when planning to cut out entire food groups from your diet.

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Treadmill Walking 101

Treadmill Walking 101

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of you may turn to your treadmill to get your steps in. It’s important to have proper technique and safety to get the best out of your treadmill walk.

1. Begin standing with one foot on each side of the treadmill. Step on the treadmill and start at a slow rate of speed and slowly increase the speed. Be sure to know where the red emergency switch is located on most machines.

2. Do not hold onto the side rails or front console. You often see people holding on and leaning back while walking. This is incorrect posture and could be dangerous.

3. Stand up straight, head up, eyes forward, arms swinging in stride with your feet. Stride with your front heel striking close to your body while your back foot remains on the ground longer to give a powerful push-off. This back foot push off is what gives you speed and power, and will help you burn more calories.

Big Screen Treadmill Interval Walking Workout

Interval workouts alternate very fast and slower-paced walking for a great cardiovascular workout and a high calorie burn.

Start your treadmill workout during a favorite tv show or movie. Decide your walking fast pace points in the show and slow pace points in the show. For example, if you’re watching The Biggest Loser, walk at a very fast pace during each part of a challenge on a show, then slow way down during the commercials. If you’re a sports fan, go fast during breakaways on hockey and slow down when the whistle blows. Soap opera fan? Up and down with every kiss, fight or gun shot.

Total time: 47 minutes.

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5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

Summer is finally here! For many of us that means FINALLY getting to go outside and do all the outdoors-y activities we couldn’t do earlier in the year.

If you are a walker and participating in a walking or activity program, you may be excited at the prospect of getting your steps in outside instead on the treadmill or at the gym.

Still, summer can also mean extreme heat and humidity. These things can make it tough to spend any time outdoors without getting sunburn, heat stroke or experiencing dehydration—let alone regular exercise. Exercising, to some degree, in the heat is normally safe for most people.  Nevertheless, putting a few safeguards in place will help you keep cool and prevent heat associated problems.

Keep Alert for Danger Signs from Your Body

Usually, your body cools off when sweat evaporates off your skin. However, when heat and humidity rise, sweat isn’t able to disappear as fast as it would under other normal circumstances. Hot weather and high body temperature combined with exercise can be unsafe and even deadly.

Let’s face it: We aren’t like the heroes in our favorite movies. For these characters, it seems like they can keep going no matter the weather or the temperature. We’re normal people. That means we need to pay attention to the signs. If your body gets overheated it can cause physical symptoms like faintness, muscle cramps, dehydration, light-headedness, confusion, rapid heart rate and headache. If neglected, becoming overheated, can lead to unconsciousness, vomiting, trouble breathing and the inability to sweat. All of these are signs of heat stroke and require urgent medical attention.

All that being said, we don’t have to give up or just not exercise because it’s hot outdoors. Remember, we wanted it to warm up specifically for this reason!

Check Out These 5 Tips to Help You Beat the Heat:

1. Get a Check Up and a Thumbs Up from Your Doc. Newbies to fitness, working out or even those who are used to working out but who may be taking any medications, should check with their physician or medical professional before working out or exercising in the summer heat.  There are some medications that could possibly weaken your body’s ability to normalize temperature.

2. Protect Your Skin and Wear Suitable Clothing. Cotton does not wick away moisture as well as loose-fitting polyester/cotton blends. These or synthetic fibers designed especially for wicking during exercise are your best choices. Don’t forget to generously apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.  We recommend you use an oil-free formula. Oil-free formulas are less likely to interfere with your body’s ability to cool down. Many people also like to choose a wide brimmed hat to shield their face from the sun.

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. This is super important. Remember to keep drinking water before, during and after your exercise routine or even when hanging out and playing games, being involved in water sports or other outdoor recreation.  Try switching to a sports drink with electrolytes if you exercise for more than an hour at a time.

4. Time of Day and Air Quality Awareness. If you live in areas where there can be high levels of smog or your city publicizes smog alerts, be sure to check these before heading outdoors for exercise. It’s wise to decrease the intensity of your workout level on days with extreme heat and high smog.

When it comes to time of day – remember that early in the morning or early evening times are often the coolest parts of the day. In some southern states, it doesn’t cool down til well after 8:00 pm at night so factoring in how much light you’ll need may become an important component in your exercise schedule.

5. Check Your Heart Rate and Keep Alert for Danger Signs. While you are exercising, monitor your heartbeat. If your intensity level increases and exceeds your target range, don’t push it during extreme heat. It’s best to slow down to avoid further heat related stress. Use common sense and keep alert for any of the danger signs we mentioned above.

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